Originally published November 17 2014
End IRS seizure of bank accounts from innocent people; support the FAIR Act
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If you have ever wondered just how far from its constitutional moorings our country has drifted, you need look no further than the incredible powers given to, and claimed by, the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS has easily become the most feared of federal agencies by ordinary Americans, as evidenced by a case involving Carole Hinders of Arnolds Park, Iowa. She has had her entire savings -- $33,000 -- seized by the IRS, even though she has done nothing wrong and has not even been charged with a crime. Spoiler alert: She is not the first American to have had that happen, but her case is a microcosm of a much larger problem.
As reported by The New York Times, Hinders has been operating Mrs. Lady's, a cash-only Mexican restaurant, for nearly four decades, depositing her earnings in a small bank branch just a block away. But last year, she got a visit by some IRS agents who informed her that they had seized her cash:
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes -- in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.
"How can this happen?" Ms. Hinders asked in a recent interview. "Who takes your money before they prove that you've done anything wrong with it?"
That would be Uncle Sam.
So much for 'due process'
The IRS was utilizing a law originally aimed at catching drug traffickers, racketeers and even terrorists by allowing federal law enforcement to track cash deposits. But in practice, the government has used the law to attack average small business owners and wage earners, and without even so much as a hint of an allegation that they have committed any crimes. Despite the fact that the law was passed in a constitutional manner (i.e. Congress passed it and it was summarily signed by the president), the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states, in part, that no one can be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
And yet, the IRS can get away with taking your money and never filing a criminal complaint (the "due process of law" thing), thereby forcing property owners to prove that they are innocent (so much for "innocent until proven guilty," another constitutional concept). As you might imagine, most targeted Americans simply give up because they don't have the means to fight against a government with limitless resources.
"They're going after people who are really not criminals," David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia, told the Times. "They're middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law."
Until the IRS comes a-calling.
In response to questions by the Times' reporters, the agency said it would begin to curtail that practice and would instead focus more on cases where cash is honestly believed to have been ill-acquired, or when money seizures are judged acceptable due to "exceptional circumstances."
One possible solution: the FAIR Act
But not everyone is buying the line that the government will practice self-control. One of them is Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, widely believed to be interested in running for president in 2016. In an op-ed he penned for Breitbart News, Paul said he was introducing legislation to prevent the IRS and other government agencies from seizing bank accounts without Fifth Amendment due legal processes.
"The government should never be able to take property from innocent Americans. That is a blatant violation of our Fifth Amendment rights. Clark Neily of the Institute for Justice put it best: 'A dismaying combination of perverse incentives, unfair laws, and lack of oversight makes civil forfeiture one of the most dangerous and blatantly unconstitutional policies America has ever seen.'"
Paul will be introducing the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. Among other changes, the law will:
The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property--so that honest, hard-working Americans like Carole Hinders are not left broke or trapped with debt.
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